Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The truth shall make you free.
— The Gospel according to St. John
September was a remarkable month for the Bush administration. We had grown so accustomed to the sight of competent people being set free from their jobs for telling the truth that it was refreshing to see three malefactors given the boot.
Among the freed truth tellers was Glen Hubbard, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. He lost his job because of Iraq. Unlike many Bush-victims he wasn’t sent on a long deployment or even killed. He said the war would cost $200 billion, which is approximately what it has cost as of this writing. That flew in the face of Bush lies that said the cost would be $50 billion. He was fired.
Another victim of the truth was former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill. He suggested federal budget deficits didn’t seem to matter to the administration and publicly disagreed with tax cuts for Bush-friends and other rich people. He was fired.
Lawrence Greenfield was appointed the director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in September 2001. In August, 2005, a congressionally ordered study that was based on survey data obtained three years earlier found that Hispanic and black motorists stopped for traffic violations were three times more likely to be searched or have their vehicles searched and were more likely to be subjected to force or threats of force than were whites. Mr. Greenfield included the findings in the press release announcing the results of the study. Refusing an order to delete the reference to that fact, he was given the option of leaving or being demoted. With retirement only a few months away he accepted the demotion to protect his pension.
Brian Steidle is a former Marine captain who worked in Darfur, Sudan as a military adviser. According to the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristoff he let the world know of the acts of genocide that were occurring in that tortured country by presenting his own photographs that show the kinds of acts that take place in Darfur. People who saw the photographs were made uncomfortable by their graphic depictions of man’s inhumanity to man. Mr. Bush was made uncomfortable by their effect on the administration’s relations with Sudan. The state department told Mr. Steidle on three separate occasions not to go around showing the photos to people. He ignored its requests. Mr. Kristoff reports that Mr. Steidle has been told he is blacklisted from all U.S. government jobs.
Susan Wood resigned from the her positions as assistant commissioner for women’s health and the top FDA official in charge of women’s health issues when Lester Crawford, the FDA Commissioner refused to approve the emergency contraceptive known as Plan B in September that had been approved by staff by September 1. In resigning she said she couldn’t work for an agency that overruled the findings of its professional staff.
Bunnatine Greenhouse was the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers that has overseen much of the reconstruction work in Iraq. In 2003 she publicly complained about the manner in which a $10 billion no bid contract was awarded to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc. for rebuilding Iraq’s oil infrastructure. She referred to political interference and said it was “the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed.” Following her assertion her performance reviews went from good to bad and she was demoted.
In contrast to those people it was dishonesty and/or incompetence that set, among others, Commissioner Lester Crawford, free. He resigned unexpectedly on September 23, 2005. An anonymous spokesman for the government said he was fired for failing to fully disclose information about his personal finances to the Senate during his confirmation hearings. Not wanting to violate Dr. Crawford’s privacy, the official declined to be named and since I don’t want to violate his privacy either, people should not tell others what they have just read. It might also have been related to the Plan B issue that led to the departure of Susan Wood. Commenting on his departure, Senator Richard Durbin said controversies in the agency reflect “weak oversight, conflict of interest and poor management at the F.D.A.”
David Safavian was head of procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget. He resigned on September 16, 2005 and was arrested on September 19th and charged with lying to investigators and obstructing a federal inquiry. And, of course, there was Michael Brown whose departure had nothing to do with lack of truthfulness unless the misleading information on his resume counts. He left simply because he was incompetent.
There are lots more where Messrs. Brown, Safavian and Crawford came from. One reads about them almost daily. That’s what happens when cronyism is substituted for competence.